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Lewis and Clark Public Health shifts contact tracing strategy amid rising cases

Lewis and Clark Public Health
Posted at 4:11 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 18:11:08-04

HELENA — The latest wave of COVID-19 cases has Lewis and Clark Public health shifting its contact tracing strategy.

As of Friday, Lewis and Clark Co. had just under 150 active cases, five hospitalizations and 58% of the eligible population fully vaccinated.

Under the new strategy--public health will focus full contact tracing on those deemed high-risk for COVID-19, and household members.

People deemed at low risk may not be contacted.

Current guidelines list close contacts as anyone who has been less than six feet from an infected person for a cumulative span of 15 minutes over 24 hours.

People considered high-risk people include the following underlying conditions:

  • Individuals over 65 years of age
  • Individuals living in congregate settings (shelter, & group home, etc.)
  • Individuals with cancer who are receiving treatment
  • Chronic kidney disease at any stage
  • Chronic lung diseases such as COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and interstitial lung disease (scarring of lung tissue).
  • Dementia or Alzheimer
  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart disease, heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies (abnormal heart rhythm such as A-Fib), or hypertension
  • HIV infection
  • Immunocompromised or a weakened immune system
  • Liver Disease
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  • Current or former smoker
  • Organ or blood stem cell transplant
  • Stroke

Public health adds even though low-risk people may not be contacted, anyone who believes they may be a close contact should take precautions.

That includes getting tested three to five days after exposure, regardless of vaccination status.

Unvaccinated people who were exposed should stay home for 10 to 14 days from the last contact, watch for symptoms, and, if possible, avoid close contact with people they live with.

Close contacts who are vaccinated should wear a mask for 14 days from the last contact and isolate for a least 10 days if they test positive.